Picking Your Own Apples at Willowbrook Apple Farm
"What are you doing this weekend?" the jefe asked before I left on Friday.
"Apple picking with the chica somewhere in Oak Glen," I responded.
"Beat you to it--I went with my family two weeks ago," he replied.
"Why didn't you blog about it?" I wondered.
Thus, this post: a brief summation of a wonderful time for anyone willing to drive about an hour to the Southland's apple-picking country.
The 7 stands for pounds. You can pick as much as you'd like, and they charge you depending on how many bags you carry out. We picked 40 pounds--do the math!
Oak Glen is a historic village in the San Bernardino Mountains, just north of Yucaipa up a winding road that passes through about a dozen family-owned farms, most of which grow apples. The most popular is Riley's Farm, the orchard the jefe visited. We stopped at the place right next to it: the Willowbrook Apple Farm, about 2 1/2 acres of apple trees more than a century old. For about $2 a pound, you can pick to your stomach's delight and even transform your pickings into cider using a hand crank.
You can pick by hand, but the best bet is getting one of these suckers and going for the higher fruit, which was almost untouched. Humans and the appeal of low-lying fruit, I swear...
"It's a bumper crop for apples this year," one of the workers told me. He explained that last year had no crop--a frost killed the blossoms just as they were beginning to sprout, destroying any chance of any apples. All the trees on the property shined with the apples, of the Stayman Winesap variety. It's tarter than usual, and also possesses a thicker skin, which made it perfect for the pioneers of the area to grow the varietal as it stayed longer than other, more-brittle apples.
The Willowbrook folks make their own caramel, derived from local cows, and also sell their own honey. This was lunch...
This is a fine day trip for folks looking to entertain kiddies, or looking for a spontaneous date. And this post now ends for the meanwhile--the chica is preparing apple butter as we speak. Details to come...
Willowbrook Apple Farm, 12099 S. Oak Glen Rd., Oak Glen, (909) 797-9484; willowbrookapple.tripod.com.
Get the Food & Drink Newsletter
Our weekly guide to Orange County dining includes food news and reviews, as well as dining events and interviews with chefs and restaurant owners.